Video: Vintage Lockheed Vega Flies Again

Airplane is one of nine metal-fuselage examples.

Lockheed Vega Original

Lockheed Vega Original

** The Lockheed Vega in its original condition.**

On the 110th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight, owner-pilot John Magoffin pushed the throttle lever forward on his rare 1933 Lockheed Vega, the aircraft of choice of pioneer aviators, including Amelia Earhart (who flew one on her solo transatlantic record flight) and Wiley Post, who flew a Vega around the world twice.

Magoffin's Vega is particularly rare in that it's one of nine built by the Detroit Aircraft Corporation as part of the DL-1 series (for "Detroit Lockheed"). The Detroit-built Vega had aluminum fuselages, while the original Vega from Lockheed in California was plywood skinned. NC12288 was assembled from spare parts by Lockheed Chief Engineer Richard Van Hake, who was working after being laid off when Lockheed went into receivership.

The first owner was the Morrell meat packing company in Ottumwa, Iowa, and the airplane wore the title "Morrell's Pride." It passed through a number of owners, including two airlines, a construction company (for which it performed service on the Alcan Highway project), and then founder of the Air Power Museum in Ottumwa, Jack Lowe.

It was restored in the early 1960s and in 1983 sold by Antique Airplane Association founder Robert Taylor to an owner in Oklahoma, who suffered three crashes that heavily damaged the Vega. Magoffin said, when he acquired it, "…the wing was broken and the tail was in splinters." That was about three years ago, and Magoffin tasked Rick Barter of Skywords Aviation to perform the restoration. Magoffin chose a military paint scheme, originally found on a Y1C-12 metal-skin Vega. The fruits of their efforts are seen in the accompanying video.

You can also watch raw footage of the Lockheed Vega taking off in the video below.

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